Changes in technology in recent years have included the rapid spread of mobile phones, computers, Internet, digital cameras and many other new technologies to fulfill people's communication and business needs. Richardson (2008) described how the Cambodian National Information Communication Technology Development Authority (NiDA) was created in August 2000 with its core duty was to " promote and formulate IT development policy for the short, medium, and long term; implement IT policies to ensure maximum economic growth; and monitor and audit all IT-related projects in Cambodia" (p. 69). In partnership with national and international organizations especially the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Cambodian Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS) developed the Policy and Strategies on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education in Cambodia in 2004. The policy vision is to make sure all citizens have equal access to quality basic education and to prepare all of them to play an active role in reconstructing the country and also integrating Cambodia with the knowledge-based ASEAN and wider global communities. Moreover, three main goals were set in order to achieve the vision, they were:
Increased access to basic education for all, both formal and non-formal, using ICT as one of the major tools for learning, teaching, searching and sharing information.
Improved quality of basic education and promote independent and lifelong learning, especially for post-primary education,
Availability of a workforce with the ICT skills needed for employment and use in a knowledge-based society; to ensure that Cambodia can compete and cooperate in an increasingly interconnected world. (p. 4)
The Policy and Strategy of ICT in Education was formulated by the MoEYS with the technical assistance from UNESCO and financial provision from Japanese Funds-in-Trust. This policy focused on four core areas: (1) in order to reduce the gap of digital between Cambodian schools and other neighboring counties' schools all teachers and students are provided with access to ICT, (2) increases use of ICT functions in education as learning and teaching tools in various subjects as well as ICT itself, (3) introduces it to all ages, genders, ethnicities, people with disabilities and in locations through distance learning, self-learning. Especially, focusing children, youth, adults who can access less or cannot gain direct access to training skills as well as basic education by integrating ICT with other tools such as television, printed or painted materials, radio and other media, (4) highlights using ICT to increase productivity, effectiveness and efficiency in education management (MoEYS, 2004, pp. 4-5).
I chose to study this topic because many articles discussed and described how knowledge and the ability to use Information Literacy Skills (ILS) are really important and necessary for students especially, but not only, first year undergraduate students. Many countries in the world including the United States, England, China, and Malaysia have developed curriculums that include the development of ILS to the students in their schools and universities. The education policy makers in these countries understand that information and literacy skills are important for their students' academic success. Universities are increasingly teaching ILS to students and often librarians and faculty educators work together to strengthen their students' skills and knowledge of ILS. Many universities have encouraged their teaching faculty staff to work closely with the university librarians because these two units are able to support each other very well in developing relevant curriculum and incorporating ILS either explicitly or implicitly in the curriculum.
In a discussion with a librarian from a Cambodian university, it was mentioned that there are no Cambodian universities other than the one the librarian worked in that has introduced an ILS focused course to their commencing students. It was suggested by the librarian that this was possibly because the universities don't have enough resources especially a standard library, databases, Internet access for students and computer suites.
Another reason may be that staff in Cambodian universities may not know about the benefits from teaching students ILS or/and they may know but they cannot afford it. According to the university's ILS's course outline provided by the librarian and some information from a student I interviewed during this initial exploring of the topic, I realized that this set of skills is really important for both undergraduate and graduate students because after they finished the course they will be able to (1) use existing resources in library effectively (2) use Internet and other online resources properly and effectively for locating relevant material (3) write and produce papers following academic rules and (4) have better developed skills to think and analyze material critically. Information literacy skills are the foundation skills required for the effective development of research skills.
Higher Education In Cambodia
Chamnan and Ford mentioned, "The lack of research capacity may stem from deeper cultural traditions in Cambodia. In the traditional teaching, the teacher leads and students passively follow. Learning without a teacher, which is the essence of research, goes against this tradition" (as cited in Kwok, Chan, Heng, Kim, Neth & Thon, 2010, p. 29). While not all universities in Cambodia require students to do research to complete their degrees and not all students are encouraged to do research to fulfill their graduation many students do write a research paper prior to graduation. How well developed are the ILS of these students, which are fundamental tools for conducting research for any purpose?
This report also pointed out that in the traditional teacher centered teaching style, the teacher teaches and all students listen and it is still being widely implemented in Cambodia as well as other East Asian countries such as South Korea, Japan and China and in Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand (Kwok et al, 2010). Research skill development in Cambodian universities was not emphasized in the national Cambodia policy while The Rectangular Strategy for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency in Cambodia (2004) stated that:
The Royal Government will continue to strengthen its partnerships with the private sector and the national and international community to enhance and improve the quality of education services, both in vocational and technical training and in higher education, consistent with international standards and the development needs of the nation. (p. 18)
The quality of higher education cannot meet international standards or even regional standards unless there is intentional investment to build up the research capacities of students and academic staff (Kwok et al, 2010). The Education Sector Support Program (ESSP) (2005) claimed that strategies were in place to, "Enhance quality of higher education to meet the labour market demands through providing budget for institutional operation and research activities to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs)" (p.12). But the report found that in reality there was no budget available for research. In addition, Chealy concluded when describing the research activities in Cambodia's universities that:
Research is still in a dark stage for Cambodian higher education. The government budget allocated for research activities in public HEIs is relatively nonexistent. Some major universities such as the Royal University of Phnom Penh, the Royal University of Fine Arts, and the Royal University of Agriculture have their research activities carried out with external assistance given by foreign donors and partners. In private HEIs, on the other hand, research activities are almost completely absent. (as cited in Kwok et al, 2010, p. 31)
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) (2011) pointed out that in order to improve education quality the Cambodian government and Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) needed to improve faculty systems, conditions of employment and evaluation procedures. Not only was academic staff performance poor and lacking in solid capacity, but also changes to the working environment were needed to produce good quality work. As one main goal among three from ICT policy mentioned that labor force availability plus ICT skills were really essential for employment while knowledge-base was demanded to use in the society at the same time to guarantee that Cambodia was able to collaborate and contest in the unified world (MoEYS, 2004).
The Policy and Strategies on ICT in Education in Cambodia (2004) highlighted that:
Not all colleges have enough computers to run ICT courses effectively and some have problems with power supply for example having rely on a generator or having to turn off all other electrical appliances in the college while the computer room is in use. (p. 9)
Obviously the lack of resources such as described above will seriously affect the quality of learning available for students. Richardson (2008), in his study in 2006 of 96 schools in seven rural provinces in Cambodia also found that 50% or more of students from those schools were able to access to the computers while:
â€¦15.6% of the schools never allowed their students to access the computers, 22.9% of the schools reported that none of their teachers had access to the computers, while only 14.6% of the school reported all of the teachers had access to the computers. (p. 70)
Issues of commencing university students having adequate computer skills to be successful in finding relevant material for learning and study is something not recognized by some lecturing staff. There can be an assumption amongst staff that because a student has obtained a certain level of competency to progress to university they have the necessary skills to complete their study. A study by Vong (2010) with 100 participants who graduated from grade 12, their high schools in both rural and urban areas and who had come to participate in an educational course at an NGO where he worked in Phnom Penh found that there was a difference in patterns of computer access for students. He reported that students who had studied in urban schools had more availability of accessing with computers than students who had studied at rural. His finding highlighted a disadvantage that students in rural areas faced in terms of computer access and use. Students commencing university who were graduates from rural schools would be at a disadvantage in their limited experience and understanding of how to use technology to assist them in their learning and studies.
A study in the United States by Profeta and Kendrick (as cited in Caspers & Bernhisel, 2007) discovered that commencing university students themselves still thought their basic computer skills were not developed enough and that their skills in evaluating, using and locating information through electronic resources needed to be improved. Likewise in another study by Caspers and Bernhisel (2007), "most students in this study indicated they believed their information literacy skills were good but were aware of their need to further refine their information literacy skills in order to succeed in college" (p. 467). They also found that students in this study claimed that they could find a lot of resources from the websites but they didn't really know how to evaluate those types of resources well.
The purpose of this small study was to find out what the Information Literacy Skill levels were of two groups each of commencing and continuing students in a science focused and social science focused postgraduate program.
In view of the issues explored above I will explore this question: What are the Information Literacy Skill levels of two groups of commencing and continuing students in a science focused and social science focused postgraduate program at a university? An outcome of answering this question will lead to the secondary question: what might these findings reveal about undergraduate programs of study and the preparation of a workforce with the ICT skills needed for employment in a knowledge-based society?
Significance of The Study
This research was necessary to conduct because its findings will indicate how skilled these postgraduate students both commencing and continuing, were in understanding and using some basic ILS. It will be useful for the program staff as well as the students to know how well the students understand and use ILS in their study.
Secondly, the results will help the program directors and academic staff realize their students' current levels of ILS, and this information can be used to reform their curriculum to either integrate ILS into their course work subjects or/and provide intentional training in specific components or elements of ILS.
This thesis has five main chapters. The first chapter is the introduction of the research where the background of the study, research problems, research objectives, research questions, significance and the proposed chapter outline are provided. A review of literature will be discussed in chapter two and chapter three provides the details about the research design, and the instrument used for data gathering, the sample or population, sampling, data collecting procedures, procedures for analyzing data, and ethical considerations. Chapter four discusses the findings, and makes recommendations based on the literature. The last chapter is the conclusion of the research.
A lot of literature was found from research conducted in developed countries. This literature was mainly located in Google scholar and from an Australian university e-journal collection. However, finding a reliable article on the Internet sometimes isn't easy when some resources were unknown and less clear information were provided. In some ways, I had to download them all because I could not identify which one was the right one for my research study then I brought them to my supervisor to help identifying them for me to fit my research study. I realized that my own information literacy skills were not well developed as I went through the process of identifying and selecting relevant articles.
Origins of The ideas
The term Information Literacy Skills was a term or concept first invented by Paul Zurkowski in 1974. Eisenbery, Love and Spitzer described ILS as being, "â€¦ the ability to find, evaluate, use, and communicate information in all its various formats" (as cited Bilawar and Pujar, 2011, p. 388). The American Library Association (ALA) stated that, "Information literacy is a survival skill in the Information Age" (as cited in Bilawar and Pujar, 2011, p. 388). According to Behrens (as cited in Kokic, 2011)
The concept of information literacy was first introduced in 1974, when Paul Zurkowski suggested that 1) information resources are applied in a work situation; 2) techniques and skills are needed for using information tools and primary sources; and 3) information is used in problem solving. (p. 45)
Conway (2011) asserted that Information Literacy Skills (ILS) was first recognized formally by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1989 where it was described as an ability to use, evaluate and locate information effectively. Bundy also mentioned that ILS was also recognized by the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Information Literacy (ANZIIL), and the Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education (ILCSHE) (as cited in Conway, 2011).
What Are Information Literacy Skills (ILS)?
A study by Johnston and Webber in the United Kingdom (UK) (2006) said that "information literacy draws on theory, and research approaches, from sociology, psychology, management studies, and media/communication studies to illuminate needs, situations, and behavior" (p. 116). Meanwhile, they classified the purposes of Information Literacy (IL) into three major parts in an information society as being:
IL for citizenship: active engagement in community, polity, and global development by freedom of access to, and critical use of, data and information.
IL for economic growth: stimulating the development of new and existing enterprises by intensive and creative use of knowledge, and by combining information services more efficiently.
IL for employability: education, training, and continuing development of all of the knowledge, skills, and ways of being information literate required for access to and success in the economy. However, in my research study I will focus only on the third element. (p. 117)
The ACRL also pointed out that both the Australian and New Zealand Information Literacy standards considered IL a part of lifelong learning. They claimed, "Information literacy forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education (as cited in Johnston & Webber, 2006, p. 119). Johnston and Webber added, "information literacy can offer a powerful intellectual and pedagogical force for coherence and relevance, and not just a new term for library user education, research skills, or generic attributes" (p. 121). Kehoe (as cited in Bucher, 2000) claimed that:
Computers and related technologies are major pathways to information literacy. Students can use computers to go beyond locating library resources; they can learn to use CD-ROM and online database, word processors, graphing software, presentation software, electronic bulletin boards, and e-mail. (p. 217)
In addition, the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) mentioned that students must be able to have Nine Information Literacy Standards of Student Learning that they have outlined as below:
Access information efficiently and effectively,
Evaluate information critically and competently,
Use information accurately and creatively,
Pursue information related to personal interests,
Appreciate literature and other creative expressions of information,
Strive for excellence in information seeking and knowledge generation,
Recognize the importance of information to a democratic society,
Practice ethical behavior in regard to information and information technology, and
Participate effectively in groups to pursue and generate information. (as cited in Bucher, 2000, p. 218)
Definitions of Information Literacy Skills
The American Library Association (ALA) (as cited in Plotnick, 1999) provided a definition that "To be information literate, a person must be able to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate and use effectively the needed information" (p. 1). Johnston and Webber (2006) stated that Information Literacy is a soft discipline, which was applied with reference to three other elements such as information literacy for employability, information literacy for citizenship and information literacy for economic growth. In addition, these two authors added "Information literacy is the adoption of appropriate information behavior to identify, through whatever channel of medium, information well fitted to information needs, leading to wise and ethical use of information in society" (p. 113). Similarly, the Chartered Instituted of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) published a definition in Britain, "Information Literacy is knowing when and why you need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate, use and communicate it in an ethical manner" (p. 206).
A study in Sri Lanka by Ranaweera (2010) defined Information Literacy (IL) as "gaining the necessary skills required to access, process and present information for learning, research, problem solving and career development" (p. 61). He also mentioned that the IL concept has been spreading widely among educators to extend their knowledge as well as achieving their studies while IL skills are based on information technology skills (ITS) and library skills. The Association of College and Research Librarians (ACRL) defined IL as the skill and knowledge to be able to "Recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information" (as cited in Ranaweera, 2010, p. 64). The ACRL also claims that IL as "â€¦ forms the basis for lifelong learning. It is common to all disciplines, to all learning environments, and to all levels of education" (p. 64).
A study by Bilawar and Pujar (2011) found that many information resources that were available online were pushing users into a stressful circumstance because they could not find accurate information due to their inadequate ILS. They said that, "Information literacy bridges this information gap by pursuing resources and skills amongst the users. Information literacy is a skill for moving awareness about text-based learning to e-resource based learning" (p. 388). Furthermore, they argued that the term "literacy" means to train or to literate and another way was that it meant to use, to find, to know and to evaluate information.
In addition, information literacy consists of many components as the Figure 1 below shows.
Figure 1. Components of Information Literacy. Adapted from "Information Literacy Models: Correlation and Conceptual Model for Higher Education," by Bilawar and Pujar, 2011, p. 389.
Out of 15 components Information Literacy in Figure 1 I will provide a brief outline of 5 components as a way of illustrating the complexity of ILS. It also highlights the need for the development of an individual's ILS over a period of time and reinforces the value of imbedding ILS in all coursework as well as having workshops that may focus on one or two specific technical skills, for example, how to use PowerPoint, how to use SPSS. Other skills and knowledge, for example, understanding the scientific approach to reasoning and argument development require considerable time and many opportunities to develop and practice to become an effective user.
Figure 2. Digital literacies include a number of abilities that extend notions of (a) screen reading and Internet surfing and (b) texting, keyboarding, and mailing. Adapted from "ICT Transforming Education," by UNESCO, 2010, p. 27.
Miller (2004) asserted that computer literacy "represents a way of communicating with, not another human (directly), but with a machine (or perhaps more accurately, a machine system, if the computer is attached to a network)" (pp. 13-14). He also mentioned that, knowing how to use a computer, reading material on computers, writing or programming on a computer, ability to use common software applications such as word processing, browsing on webpages, using emails, doing database entry, presentation using a computer were considered as computer literacy either, he added.
Malik (2008) pointed out that
Media literacy is generally understood as an informed, critical understanding of the prevalent mass media, and it involves examining the techniques, technologies and institutions involved in media production; being able to critically analyze media messages; and recognizing the role audiences play in making meaning from those messages. (p. 2)
Ability to examine, understand, write messages, create and evaluate sounds, images and text and other elements were considered as media literacy too, he added.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) defined scientific literacy as "the capacity to use scientific knowledge, to identify questions and to draw evidence-based conclusions in order to understand and help make decisions about the natural would and the changes made to it through human activity (as cited in Holbrook & Rannikmae, 2009, p. 280).
Figure 3. The Graber model for scientific literacy. Adapted from "The Meaning of Scientific Literacy," by Bybee (as cited in Holbrook & Rannikmae, 2009, p. 278).
The Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) in Australia, (2008) defined ICT literacy as "the ability of individuals to use ICT appropriatey to access, manage and evaluate information, develop new understanding, and communicate with others in order to participate effectively in society (p. 2).
Original ideas, definitions, what were ILS and its components were discribed quite detail above. These kinds of information would bring the readers to understand deeper about ILS while the ideas why ILS were important discribed below.
Why Are Information Literacy Skills Considered Important?
Howe claimed that Information Literacy Skills play an important role to deliver the curriculum, develop cognitive skills, improve computer skills, strengthen democratic values by teaching about plagiarism, copyright, and honesty and improve student relationships with adults (as cited in Bucher, 2000). He added, "the goal of the information literacy skills curriculum is not to bring the fish (resource/information) to the students; rather, it is to help the students learn how to fish" (p. 219).
The Malaysian situation with regards to ILS development was summarized by Ismail, Dorner and Oliver (2011) who wrote two years ago that Information Literacy (IL) in Malaysia is still at the beginning stage even though it has been implemented by practitioners and implementers from educational institutions since 2002. In addition, the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC) of Malaysia puts IL as one of the important skills in learning while the Education Technology Division (ETD) of the Ministry of Education of Malaysia declared, "IL skills, ICT skills, values and citizenship, multiple intelligence, and knowledge acquisition. The way IL is implemented is just like other skills, that is, infuse in the teaching and learning activities" (p. 205). The study also found that the ones who implemented IL in Malaysia are only librarians when there are other Malaysian implementers were found such as Primary and Secondary Schools in Malaysia, government-linked agencies, Higher Education, Prime Minister Department and Higher Education.
ILS and Higher Education
A study by Conway (2011) in a university in Australia found that the main obstacles to students having adequate ILS were the experiences of previous library guidance, their age, previous study or work experiences, Internet use, English not being their first language, and self confidence. Another study by Mittermeyer and Quirion in the Quebec University in Canada in 2003 found that, "students ability to retrieve information is hampered by their inability to identify concepts and to read citation, a lack of knowledge of the structure and contents of library catalogues and of controlled vocabulary, and deficient search strategies" (as cited in Conway, 2011, p. 124). Profeta and Kendrick also found that "students considered their basic computer skills to be average to excellent, but their skill in locating, evaluating, and using information via electronic resources revealed a great need for improvement" (as cited in Caspers and Bernhisel, 2007, p. 459). Due to the continual development in new technologies, and tools for communication which have been developing very fast current students in this technology age are able to gain access to the Internet via handy devices such as mobile phones, iPads and computers to explore new knowledge (Johnston & Webber, 2006).
The intentional teaching and learning of ILS at university was a topic discussed in a number of reports I reviewed. DaCosta (2010) mentioned that in the 1970s and 1980s Hardesty and his librarians found that a good way to develop the students' capacity of using the library was to work with faculty staff, however this finding was discovered to be a harder challenge too because of the resistance of many academic staff to recognizing the role of ILS teaching within their own subject area. He also described a study by Singh who also did a survey and her results showed that, "faculty required students to do library research as part of their courses; they are aware that students are as information literate as they could be; and they know that library instruction can improve students' research skills" (p. 204). He also found that a lot of researchers want librarians and faculty to work together to make sure the skills of information literacy were embedded into subject curricula where acceptable and they believe that librarians had to get involved in course curriculum development to produce information literacy learning outcomes. On the other hand, he mentioned that many librarians have known that incorporating curriculum and information literacy is a huge challenge and not easy to deliver its instructions to the students while integrating information literacy into the curriculum.
A study in Sri Lanka by Ranaweera (2010) claimed that Information Literacy (IL) has become more important throughout the higher education sector since 1980s, and then worldwide. However, this idea was first recognized and discussed in Sri Lanka in late 2004 when the National Institute of Library and Information Sciences (NILIS) of Sri Lanka hosted an International Seminar on this topic where there were many other foreign delegates as well as resource persons who participated. Then it was accepted by the Ministry of Education in Sri Lanka and introduced into real practices at schools in 2005 by training this new model to librarians, principals, educational directors and teachers with collaboration by the School Library Development Unit (SLDU) of the Ministry of Education and NILIS. Then, NILIS put IL into the curriculum and introduced it to students of the Post-graduate Diploma in Teacher Librarianship (PGTL) in the academic years of 2006-2007.
Floridi (1995) argued that the Internet remains appealing to higher education for a number of reasons: the reduction of the time lag between the production and utilization of knowledge; the promotion of international co-operation and sharing of viewpoints; the free share of information; and the weakening of the concept of specialization (as cited in Marriott, Marriott, & Selwyn, 2004). Access to and developing the skills for effectively using the internet for research purposes are therefore basic skills students need for learning. Whereas before the widespread use of computers and internet it was access to the pen and paper that was fundamental for student success, now it is access and skills in using the internet that are fundamental for student learning.
Started describing with original ideas of ILS, which presented where did ILS concepts originally come from, and then followed by types of ILS that said by researchers in the United Kingdom, ACRL in Australian, New Zealand and AASL. I also gave some information of ILS definitions by describing some more detail of each component of ILS such as digital, computer, media, scientific and ICT literacy. Moreover, the reasons why ILS were considered important was provided either to draw the readers' attention on it and the last I detailed more about ILS's importance in higher education.
This chapter gives details about the data collection site, sample size, data collection method, the tool I used for collecting the data, the approach to analyzing the data, ethical considerations, and some of the strengths and limitations of the methods used. This study was conducted at a Cambodian University in Phnom Penh with two groups each of commencing and current postgraduate students in a science and social science programs (4 groups in total).
Data Collection Method
A modified form of a survey that had been used by two authors, Caspers and Bernhisel (2007) in a similar study in the United States of America was used. The modified form of the survey (see Appendix A) was divided into two sections, the first section (one page) was designed for student self-assessment of their own ILS and the other was a simple skills test (4 pages) which assessed a range of ILS. The results allowed me to see the current levels of ILS amongst the students in the sample and whether a gap existed or not between a students' self perception of their ILS and their actual ILS according the small skills test. The original survey was slightly modified by a researcher in Cambodia and I was allowed to use the modified version for my own research. The surveys were anonymous and completed voluntarily.
The second part of the survey included questions that were designed to measure the respondents' ILS in five of the ACRL categories which are identified in the following table:
Correlation of skill test questions to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) information literacy competencies
ACRL information standards
Skills test number
Standard 1: Identify types and formats of information sources; exhibit appropriate expectations of their content
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Standard 2A: Develop research strategies
7, 8, 9
Standard 2B: Utilize tools and focus search
10, 11, 12
Standard 2C: Identify citation elements; document references
Standard 3: Select and evaluate information
15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21
Standard 5: Exhibit familiarity with relevant legal and ethical issues
(Caspers & Bernhisel, 2007, p. 461)
Site, Sample and Data Collection Procedure
The postgraduate students in my sample were enrolled in one university in Phnom Penh and they were either commencing or continuing postgraduate students in a science based or social science based programs.
The specific university selected was a convenience sample because I am a student there and had easy access to classes of postgraduate students. Gay, Mills and Airasian (2009) mentioned "convenience sampling also referred to as accidental sampling or haphazard sampling, is the process of including whoever happens to be available at the time" (p. 134).
I could gain access to the four classes easily and ask them for their voluntary participation in completing the survey. To get the participants to complete the survey was not difficult because I was a student in that university too. The students from the two Science Based classes were not allowed to complete my survey during their class time so I waited until they had a short break.
For my sample I chose continuing and commencing students from two postgraduate programs. The two classes of continuing students were included in the study because I thought most of them had completed several semesters of study as well as have work experience which would help them in doing good research and produce good quality research papers. These continuing students may have been doing some research both in their previous studies and at their workplaces. The two classes of commencing postgraduate students were selected in order to compare the findings with the continuing groups to see if there was any difference in their ILS levels on the basis of time already studied.
The choice of Science Based and Social Science Based programs was made because of the possible differences in the amount and type of writing and web-based research that students were required to do. One possible difference in the Social Science Based program was that the students may have been required to complete more lengthy writing assignments whereas Science Based students may have written more report style papers. These two different fields of study were chosen to compare these groups ILS levels.
After gaining permission from the program coordinators of one Science and one Social Science Based programs I spoke to the students in the selected classes explaining my research and asking for volunteers to complete the survey. They were also able to refuse to participate if they did not want.
Data collecting procedure
When using a survey with a class I introduced myself to the students and explained to them the purpose of the study. I explained that I wouldn't use their answers to do anything illegal, and I also informed them that their answers to this survey would be a great benefit in assisting to find out the ILS of commencing and continuing postgraduate students and to understand how students used ILS in their real practices in their research.
A survey (see Appendix A) was used as a tool to collect the data. The survey was divided into two sections, personal evaluation of ILS was in the first section and scores test skills of ILS was in the second section when the same code numbers were coded on both paper sheets after the participants had done.
In most cases the survey required 20 - 30 minutes to complete and I was present and able to answer questions from students as they were raised. The completed surveys were collected and stored securely in my study
As it was a quantitative instrument used to collect information, descriptive and numerical data were created from the survey. Ms. Excel was used to record and analyze the findings, to compare and contrast the results according to the variables of both commencing and continuing students from Social Science Based and Science Based programs. Finally, the findings have been interpreted to answer the research questions.
Permission to use the already developed survey was given by the original researchers to another researcher in Cambodia who then modified it to better fit the Cambodian context. She in turn gave me permission to use the modified version of the ILS survey for my small study (see Appendix A).
Approval from the program directors to conduct data collection in the different classes was gained with support from my supervisor.
I explained to students that the survey was voluntary and anonymous and they were not required to participate if they did not want to.
The data was also stored securely in a few places such as my computer hard drive, USB flash drive as well as in my Google doc account and my drop box account in order to prevent losing it accidentally before submission.
Strengths And Limitation of The Data Collection Method
From a range of other instruments, a pen and paper survey was selected to collect the data. According to Gay, Mills and Airasian (2009), "A survey is an instrument to collect data that describes one or more characteristics of a specific population" (p. 175). They also mentioned that a limitation of using a survey is lacking of participants in some ways they do not participate or they do but they do not return the survey back. This limitation might lead the researchers to be distorted when they make an accurate conclusion.